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June 01, 1986|KEVIN THOMAS

Dennis Quaid stars in Tough Enough (Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC) as a likable, struggling country singer-composer living in Fort Worth and paying the bills as a tree trimmer. He decides to enter a Toughman Contest, that controversial amateur boxing phenomenon that swept the hinterlands in recent years. One part a redneck "Rocky," another a contemporary "Golden Boy," "Tough Enough," for all its raucous ring action, is actually a surprisingly subtle and amusing consideration of the seductiveness of the pursuit of macho .

The Calendar Girl Murders (Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC) is a TV-movie repeat about a killer on the loose, systematically knocking off women who have appeared as centerfolds. Tom Skerritt, Robert Culp and Barbara Parkins star.

In Modern Romance (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) Albert Brooks plays a Hollywood film editor so enamored of an attractive bank official (Kathryn Harrold) that he makes their lives miserable with his possessiveness and jealousy. Even though Brooks teeters between brashness and downright obnoxiousness, his film offers a fresh and acute comic vision of self and of life itself.

Alan Pakula's Starting Over (ABC Monday at 9 p.m.), another deft contemporary romantic comedy, stars Burt Reynolds as a free-lance writer dumped by wife Candice Bergen and now pursuing a very skittish Jill Clayburgh. Reynolds and Clayburgh are winning, but it's Bergen one remembers best for her comic performance as a singularly untalented would-be songwriter-singer.

Along with the suspenseful lady-in-distress thriller Wait Until Dark (Channel 5 at 8 p.m.), that beloved classic, The African Queen (Channel 11 at 9 p.m.), and the misfired celebration of "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Where the Buffalo Roam (Channel 13 at 8 p.m.), Tuesday also brings the 1979 TV movie Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (Channel 2 at 8:30 p.m.), in which six men stranded in the South Seas are menaced by a tribe of bikini-clad lovelies. (Is this the best KCBS could find on the shelf?)

Hero at Large (CBS Wednesday at 9 p.m.) is an amusing romantic comedy in which struggling actor John Ritter, hired to promote a schlocky feature called "Captain Avenger," foils a robbery while wearing his Superman-like togs and, encouraged by media hype, starts taking his fantasy role seriously. It's an engaging comment on the lack of heroes in contemporary life that nicely blends satire and sentiment.

The romantic comedy-mystery Scandalous (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) aims for a level of sophistication beyond the capabilities of its creators but only manages to shoot down Robert Hays, a top-rated TV newsman hornswoggled by Pamela Stephenson and John Gielgud.

Also airing at 8 p.m. Wednesday (on Channel 5) is Sisters, one of Brian De Palma's wittiest scare shows and most effective Hitchcock homages. Jennifer Salt is a tenacious reporter who glimpses a man being stabbed to death in the Staten Island apartment of French-Canadian model Margot Kidder.

A Long Way Home (Channel 2 Thursday at 9:30 p.m.) is a notable 1981 TV movie starring Timothy Hutton as a young man obsessed with finding his brother and sister, separated in childhood. Brenda Vaccaro is especially fine as a concerned social worker.

Also airing Thursday night (at 8 on Channel 13) is Harry and Son, a disappointing drama about a troubled father (Paul Newman, who also directed, produced and co-wrote the film) and his son (Robby Benson).

A lively 1982 TV movie, Deadly Encounter (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.) stars Larry Hagman as an ex-combat helicopter pilot persuaded by Susan Anspach, his former girlfriend, to help her escape some underworld types.

They Only Kill Their Masters (Channel 5 Friday at 8 p.m.) is a well-made, traditional-style murder mystery, a relaxing entertainment pure and simple, starring James Garner as a small-town police chief with a corpse washed up on his beach.

The American Success Company (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.), released theatrically as "Success," is an innocuous little movie that is anything but successful, a kind of contemporary fairy tale about a nice, henpecked fellow (Jeff Bridges) who at last rebels--once prostitute Bianca Jagger has made a man of him.

Don't Go to Sleep (ABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is an effective shocker about a dead girl's power beyond the grave. Dennis Weaver, Valerie Harper and the late Ruth Gordon star in this 1982 TV movie.

Selected evening cable fare: The Sure Thing (Z Sunday at 6:30, Thursday at 9); Gremlins (Sunday on Movie Channel at 7, SelecTV at 8, HBO at 9; Cinemax Tuesday at 8, HBO Thursday at 7, Z Friday at 9); Lord Jim (WOR Monday at 6); El Norte (Galavision Monday at 7); Another Country (Movie Channel at 9 Monday; Wednesday at 7:30); My Best Friend's Girl (Z Tuesday at 9); Cocktail Molotov (Bravo Wednesday at 8:30); Once Upon a Time in America (Movie Channel Wednesday at 9).

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